It’s funny how sometimes a theme creates itself over the course of a night. Last night I decided to try the famous Ishigaki beef. It is made from Japanese Wagyu cattle, the same as used for Kobe beef, but is only raised on this island. Within Japan it is supposed to have the same fame and quality as Kobe beef. So I walked though the center to find a restaurant that caters to solo travelers, has a nice selection, and is decently priced. After 15-20 min and a failed attempt to get a table for 1 I found “Native Deli”, which had an offer of chuck steak with soup and rice for 4000 Yen. I was heartily greeted and sat down at the counter. The chef didn’t look Japanese, but he sounded fluent in Japanese and spoke English with an accent.
While I waited for my steak I heard the owner talking to a couple a few seats down. He explained that he was from Germany but lived here for quite a while. Shortly after my steak came and it was perfectly medium, smooth as butter, and really delicious. Very tender, juicy, and a very mild beef flavor. Getting beef of this kind of marbling is rare and extremely expensive.
After I ate I started to chat a little bit with the owner. His name is Axel, he moved to Japan 46 years ago when he was 20 and lived in several parts of the country ever since. Now, at 66, he decided to move to Ishigaki to enjoy the more calm and relaxed lifestyle of a small island. So if you’re in Ishigaki and crave for some nice steak, I can really recommend his place.
On my way back to the hostel I passed a typical, small Japanese restaurant which had a small sign next to the door: “goat noodles”. I heard that the Ishigaki goat noodles are famous and very typical for the island. So I went in to have a small bowl of goat noodles before getting back. The owner, Toni, rushed out of his back rooms when I entered. A small, elderly guy with sweat pants, a towel around his head, and what looked liked a walmart west from the 80’s with his name on it. He greeted me and asked me where I’m from. As I replied Germany he became even more excited and told me he wants to show me German television. At least that’s what I got from his mixture of 80% Japanese with 20% English words in-between. So he climbed on a chair and turned his old TV on that was on a shelf below the ceiling. And a German documentary about a cruise ship started. He pointed on himself and then the TV, so I guessed he is on that show.
I got my soup and watched that typical German scripted documentary about the cruise ship coming to Ishigaki. They showed the intern on the boat, the life of passengers and crew, and then how they spend their one day in the city. Some went to the beach, some went to crafts classes, some went to neighboring islands, and three guys went to Tony’s restaurant for his famous goat soup. He showed me proudly the information material he got from the TV crew and his guestbook of foreign visitors. After his part he showed me a second show, this time a US show, where a biker who is cycling across Japan comes to his place to eat the goat soup. During the 30 minutes I sat there and watched his shows, he told all the Japanese customers who came in, ate, and left in the meantime that I am a German – that much Japanese I understand – and that he is showing me his show. The noodles were great, not too goat-y yet still with it’s distinctive flavor, and the free entertainment really time well spent. A very German-themed evening.